If you’re not already tired of seeing Halloween treats, here’s some more! Just a couple of days ago, my office decided to do an impromptu Halloween treats morale-boosting-party complete with costumes (it’s this afternoon so I can’t say how this part went yet) and I immediately knew I would make these cookies for the party. Since making the Survivor Cookies for my cousin last summer, I’d gotten the itch to test out the royal icing waters even further and since I’ve had a pumpkin cookie cutter in my appliance closet (no joke – it’s a full closet in one of the bedrooms) for at least two years, I was happy to bust this little guy out.
The choice for cookie dough was simple since purchasing Martha Stewart’s Cookies a few months back. I had bookmarked a number of recipes and this was one of them. It’s a basic sugar cookie recipe, though varying slightly in basic ingredients from the last recipe I used, but the addition of cinnamon at the suggestion of Martha is a brilliant one especially considering the time of year. The cookies have just enough cinnamon flavor to perfectly complement the sweet royal icing making them cookies you won’t be able to keep your hands off of…aside from the fact they are so darn cute!
I used the same royal icing recipe as last but swapped out 1/2 tbsp of water for 1/2 tbsp of vanilla extract, further helping to complement the cinnamon in the cookie. If you’re still not sure about working with royal icing or need a refresher, be sure to check out Annie’s hints!
Sugar Cookie Cutouts
source: adapted from Martha Stewart, Cookies, page 241
- 4 cups sifted all-purpose flour
- 1 teaspoon baking powder
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- 3/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
- 1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter, room temperature
- 2 cups granulated sugar
- 2 large eggs
- 2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
- Sift flour, baking powder, salt, and cinnamon into a bowl.
- Put butter and sugar in the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment. Mix on medium speed until pale and fluffy. Mix in eggs and vanilla. Reduce speed to low. Gradually mix in flour mixture. Divide dough into quarters; flatten each quarter into a disk. Wrap each in plastic. Refrigerate until firm, at least 1 hour or overnight.
- Preheat oven to 325 degrees with racks in upper and lower thirds. Let one disk of dough stand at room temperature just until soft enough to roll, about 10 minutes. Roll out dough between two pieces of plastic wrap to 1/4-inch thickness. Remove top layer of plastic wrap. Cut out cookies with a 4-to-5-inch cookie cutter. Transfer cookie dough on plastic wrap to a baking sheet. Transfer baking sheet to freezer, and freeze until very firm, about 15 minutes. Remove baking sheet from freezer, and transfer shapes to baking sheets lined with nonstick baking mats. Roll out scraps, and repeat. Repeat with remaining disk of dough.
- Bake, switching positions of sheets and rotating halfway through, until edges are almost golden, 15 to 18 minutes. Let cool on sheets on wire racks.
source: adapted from Annie’s Eats
- 4 cups powdered sugar, sifted
- 2 tbsp meringue powder
- 4 1/2 tbsp water
- 1/2 tbsp pure vanilla extract
- Combine all ingredients in the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment. Mix on low speed until the sheen has disappeared and the icing has a matte appearance (about 7-10 minutes). Transfer the contents of the mixing bowl to an air-tight container. This will be the stiffest consistency of the icing, and at this point it is still too stiff to use for decorating. Add water a very small amount at a time and stir by hand until fully incorporated. Continue until the icing has reached a consistency appropriate for piping. (Remember, if you are having any difficulty piping, it is still too thick. Add a little more liquid and try again.) Using a pastry bag, pipe around the edges of each cookie. Let stand so the icing will set. Make sure to keep the leftover icing covered at all times when not in use so that it does not begin to harden.
- Once all the cookies have been edged, transfer some of the remaining icing to a separate air-tight container. Thin out by incorporating a small amount of water at a time, until the icing drips off the spoon easily when lifted and then smooths in with that still in the bowl. If you go too far and the icing is too thin, add more sifted powdered sugar to thicken it again. Once the icing has reached the desired consistency, transfer it to a squeeze bottle (or a plastic bag with a hole in one corner), and flood the area surrounded by the piping on each cookie. If it does not completely spread to the edges, use a toothpick to help it along. Allow to set.
- Use the remaining thicker icing for piping decoration as desired. Gel icing color is best as it does not add a significant amount of liquid. Liquid food coloring can be used as well – add powdered sugar as needed to compensate for any thinning that occurs.